2015 HOUSE OF THE YEAR WINNER FOR HOUSE AND LEISURE MAGAZINE
RECEIVED A REGIONAL AWARD OF MERIT FROM THE PRETORIA INSTITUTE FOR ARCHITECTURE (2014-2015)
The grove of indigenous trees on the site in Zwavelskloof Estate, east of Pretoria was the inspiration and generator for the design. Owners Quintin & Michelle Wiehahn wanted to keep as much trees as practically viable. Before the design process started, all the trees on the site were measured up by a land surveyor. It was then used to lay out the house meticulously around the trees. The aim was to integrate the house into the existing landscape with as little disturbance as possible.
The separate wings of the house each forms a separate functional zone and were placed around a courtyard. The southern wing contains the living areas, while the more private northern wing houses the bedrooms. A separate guest wing encloses the courtyard on the western side, while the patio / entertainment area defines it on the eastern side.
To accommodate the steep fall of the site, recessed stone plinths which seem to 'grow' out of the landscape supports the structure, creating a hovering effect.
Upon arrival, a timber walkway bridge leads one to the entrance. A concrete column (housing the guest toilet) forms an entrance beacon. From the front door a visual axis is created highlighting a prized sculpture. One enters the open plan living area between the lounge and dining areas, which are defined with low screen walls, still allowing continuous visual connectivity. Simple barnlike roofs with exposed trusses were used as main roofing elements and the floating affect was echoed with glass panels between the walls and roof, visually freeing the roof.
The patio & link passage has a slatted timber ceiling and polycarbonate roof, allowing natural light to filter through to the space. The staircase placed in a concrete box forms a transitional space which connects the living area level with the northern bedroom wing.
The bedroom wing is the family's space, with a TV/study/play room at the one end, two kid's bedrooms in the middle, and the master suite on the other end. The kid's bedrooms each has its own bathroom with a loft above. The main suite opens up on its northern side to a densely vegetated portion of the site, giving it privacy and the feeling of being in a secluded forest. On the southern side it connects with the pool courtyard. The bathroom/dresser area is open to the bedroom, but can be closed of with sliding doors for privacy if needed. The main suite also has its own private outdoor courtyard with an outdoor shower.
The guest suite was designed as a separate loose standing unit accessed from the pool courtyard. This affords guests privacy without disruption to the normal family life of the owners. It also has it's own private courtyard with outdoor shower.
The stone plinths under the house were utilized mainly for storage and services, but below the northern wing it was used as wine cellar with access from the boma.
Photos by David Ross and Thomas Gouws